New employees are like a sponge ready to soak up everything that’s thrown at them. And the first few days and weeks — the moment in time before they are settled into the daily routine of emails, meetings and activities — is the perfect time to help new employees understand the company strategy and the important role they play.
Often, the most frequent mistake is under communicating. Sharing one email with your strategy will not be enough for a new employee to remember it. Studies have shown that you need to see a message at least seven times before it sticks. Hence, repeat, repeat, repeat! If you feel like you’re repeating the same information over and over again, it just might sink in.
When building knowledge about your company’s strategy, break it down in two ways: the big picture and how a new employee fits in. There are so many ways to build this into your onboarding program. Here are a few to try.
The big picture
It’s important that new employees understand the company’s main goals and objectives. This will help them understand the overall impact. But with complex, interrelated parts — such as strategies, mission, vision, goals and values — it can be quite a daunting task. Add these tactics to your program to help share the big picture strategy.
- Develop a compelling story: Create a story that articulates the journey to achieving your company’s objectives. Make it real, actionable and simple to help new employees navigate the complexity of the subject.
To help tell the story, create a simple visual of your strategy as a reference. Make it memorable and creative like an infographic. The visual can be used as a:
- Flyer to hang on a wall
- Desktop background
- Screen saver
- PowerPoint slide
- Show leader support: A leader’s role is to articulate where the organization is heading, clarify priorities, and share accomplishments and progress. Employees, especially new ones, will look to leaders to provide direction and focus.
Instead of just adding a leader letter to your onboarding materials, try creating a video. Emphasize the significance of the strategy, share how new employees can help and welcome the new employee to the company.
You might be thinking, “That’s too costly!” Well, it doesn’t have to be. Put together a quick video kit: ring light/tripod, lapel mic and adaptor. Send it out to your leaders after the strategy is launched so they can capture themselves. Provide some guidelines and tips to help them take a great video.
And, bonus, now your leaders are set up to make videos whenever you have an important message to share.
- Prepare managers: Managers are the front line and help new employees understand what they need to do to help the organization succeed, answer questions and address concerns.
Develop a core deck of slides that managers can share during onboarding meetings. This tool will help managers talk consistently about the strategy any time a new employee comes on board. Most importantly, it gives a new employee the opportunity to ask questions.
You can also develop a more robust manager guide that shares key messages and how to build them into their daily routine. Building knowledge about the strategy doesn’t happen overnight, which is why key messages should be weaved into regular communication.
How they fit in
Once the employee understands the strategy, it’s time to start connecting the dots. But getting up to speed on all the details takes time. So, remember to build in engagement throughout the onboarding process, not just on day one.
- Personalize the manager onboarding meeting: This is a great opportunity for employees to learn about how their role fits into the strategy. At the end of the strategy core deck, provide a few slides that can be customized by the manager to help break down the function and the new employee’s role in relation to the strategy.
Give specific direction to managers on how to explain what the new employee needs to do to help the company achieve success. For example, don’t say “Focus on customer service.” Instead, be more tactical, “You can focus on customer service by making sure all questions are answered, following up in a timely manner and raising concerns as soon as they arise.”
- Create out-of-the-box experiences: Develop fun ways to engage new folks in what can be a dense topic. Here are three options:
- Design a fun worksheet: Link job duties and/or goals to the strategy, which will help build the connection. You can make it fun by turning it into a mad-libs or asking them to draw how they fit in.
- Encourage dialogue with conversation cards: Create a set of cards for managers to use during check-ins with new employees to see how they are doing. They can include specific questions, topics, key messages or reminders.
- Create a new employee notebook: Develop a branded notebook that highlights the strategy. On divider pages or in headers and footers, add thoughtful questions regarding the strategy. It will allow employees to take time to think about how their daily tasks help the company achieve its goals.
- Create a monthly checklist: Remember, not all knowledge is built in day one. When check-ins or reviews come up, a new employee will want a simple way to pull up information so they can show how they’ve been helping the company succeed.
To make it easy, create a monthly checklist. It can include things like reviewing the company news on the intranet, meeting colleagues and learning more about the details of the strategy. Include some open-ended questions that help a new employee think about their role and personal goals. This document will help during check-in discussions, as well as performance reviews.
Onboarding is a great time to start building knowledge about your company strategy. So, try adding a few new tactics to your program.